Original Source: Huffingtonpost.com ‘Tis the Season (Again): How to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder by John Tsilimparis
What is seasonal affective disorder, (SAD)? Seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is a type of depression that literally follows a seasonal pattern. It systematically appears and disappears at the same time each year. The people who are affected by SAD experience depression-like symptoms beginning in the fall which may continue for five to seven months until spring returns and the days become longer again.
Symptoms of SAD:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of energy
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in activities that usually give you pleasure
- Increased appetite/Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide (in extreme cases)
One of the reasons why people suffer from SAD is that the decrease in daylight exposure in the fall months triggers the human brain into a kind of cerebral confusion. Hence, the built in human clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, is thrown out of whack. Why this happens is not fully understood but many scientists believe that the role of sunlight in the brain’s production of certain vital chemicals is affected. For example, chemicals that are produced naturally in the body like serotonin and melatonin, which are key elements responsible for regulating mood and sleep.
So, an increase in levels of serotonin occurs when the brain is exposed to sunlight. Accordingly, high levels of serotonin are associated with elevated mood and low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and anxiety. Conversely, melatonin is linked to sleeping and it is produced in greater quantities in the brain when it is exposed to darkness. So, shorter days and less light increase production of melatonin which can cause sleepiness and lethargy. Therefore, more darkness (shorter days) can significantly affect your mood.
Approximately, 1 percent to 10 percent of people experience SAD. It’s most common in older teens and young adults usually starting in their early 20s. The predominance of SAD varies from region to region. The northern countries in the higher latitudes of the world that experience very long winters with limited light are most affected.
Just like many different types of depression, the symptoms of SAD can range from the mild type to the severe type that can be very debilitating. If left untreated, SAD symptoms can impair social and occupational functioning which could snowball into isolation, withdrawal and sometimes, incapacitation. SAD sufferers are known to take more “sick” days from their jobs during the winter months and also tend to see an increase in appetite and an increased need for sleep.
If you suffer from SAD, here are a few tips to help you cope better:
Spend time outside – Get outside as often as you can. Take a walk every day if you are able. If weather allows, take your lunch break in a park or at an outdoor cafe. On weekends, plan activities that will keep you outdoors for as long as you can. The more light you are exposed to the better.
Reach out to a counselor/therapist - Find a trained clinician specializing in depression who can help you examine potentially distressing issues in your life that might be exacerbating the SAD. A counselor/therapist may help you change negative thinking patterns that leave you in a constant state of worry. Perhaps these unresolved emotional issues could be adding to your depression.
Try light therapy - Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open windows and blinds and remove any exterior obstacles that block sunlight from entering your home. You may also want to sit closer to bright windows at home or in the office. In severe cases, when a great deal of exposure to light is necessary, people buy light boxes and “phototherapy” lamps which they sit under for up to 45 minutes per day.
Exercise - “Move a muscle, change a thought” is a good slogan to remember. Physical activity not only produces endorphins in the brain that make you feel happy but exercise also helps to focus the mind on your body for a change. Remember, the mind cannot be in two places at the same time. Exercise helps to shift your focus.
Consider medication - In combination with talk therapy, anti-depressants can also help to regulate the balance in serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood and energy. Medication is not for everyone but for many it can be a positive game changer.
Here are a few tips to avoid:
Avoid too much exposure to darkness – Do not stay in bed all morning. Get up at a reasonable time. Do not return to your bed until it’s time to sleep in the evening. Staying in bed too long means you will be overly exposed to darkness and your eyes (as mentioned above) need to perceive light to secrete serotonin.
Do not leave your days unstructured – “The idle mind is the devils playground.” Don’t leave your days unstructured. Don’t be a couch potato. Not having anything to do all day long could make you over-magnify small, insignificant problems in your life that you should not be dwelling on. Your mind needs to be challenged every day.
Don’t blow off your symptoms as unimportant – Never underestimate the power of a mental condition, even if it’s mild. Left untreated your SAD symptoms could escalate and get a lot worse very fast. Don’t neglect your symptoms by trying to plow through your day feeling depressed. It is ill-advised to stay depressed all winter long.
Do not isolate – Isolation from others and not reaching out and asking for support is a disaster waiting to happen. No shame in seeking support and guidance. The more alone you are, the worse the depression gets. Depression LOVES secrets.
Don’t underestimate insomnia – Without a normal, regular sleeping pattern, your circadian rhythm will be off and that can cause more depression. Do not try and wing it each winter day with minimum sleep spells of four to five hours per night. Even if you think you feel rested, your body needs at least six to eight hours per night. Huffingtonpost.com ‘Tis the Season (Again): How to Cope With Seasonal Affective Disorder by John Tsilimparis
This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance
Let’s play a game: It’s Wednesday morning, your inbox has hundreds of unread emails, you’re in a fight with a loved one and you just spilled coffee on your new shirt. What do you do?
A) Scream at the top of your lungs
B) Go on an emotional rant throughout the office
C) Just quit and give up for the day
A better answer? D) None of the above.
It’s safe to say we’re a little less than logical when we’re stressed — and that puts us at risk to make some mistakes. The next time you find your worries spiking, pay attention to these five behaviors (and try some of the alternatives below instead).
Venting to the person next to you.
It may seem helpful to let it out — and for the most part it can be cathartic — but beware of perpetuating the problem. Studies show that stress is a contagious emotion, and soon your stress has become someone else’s, too. A vicious anxiety cycle isn’t good for anyone. Instead, try hanging out with your best friend while doing a few activities you enjoy. One 2011 study showed that quality time with your BFF can help ease your worries.
Making rash decisions.
Ever heard the phrase “don’t go to bed when you’re angry?” Well, here’s another one to file in your rulebook: Don’t make a big decision when you’re stressed. Researchers from Harvard monitored a group of students and found that students who reported high levels of stress were worse at making good long-term choices because their minds were preoccupied. In other words, that important decision about a job or that choice to make a down payment on a house should probably wait until you’re a little more relaxed.
Procrastinating your responsibilities.
We’ve all been there. We get overwhelmed and decide the best way to deal with our to-do list is to just ignore it (bonus points if you’ve used the “I work better under deadlines” excuse). That procrastination habit we create when we’re stressed may feel good at the time — but it’s certainly not helping later on. Pushing off important tasks reinforces the idea that we need that stress in our lives in order to function:
Now people seem to have become dependent on stress to get motivated, to get started, to keep going, to get things done, to feel challenged, to feel excited, to feel busy, to feel important, to find meaning, to feel validated by being in constant over demand. In all cases of adult lifestyle stress that I have seen, procrastination is the essential support. Instead of putting off something entirely, try breaking up your tasks into pieces. Research suggests we work best in 90-minute intervals. Dedicate yourself to your work during those intervals — then give yourself a rest by taking a look at those puppy videos.
Ruminating over every detail.
It can feel natural to dwell on every single hiccup when something goes wrong, but that incessant over thinking could be harming our health. According to a 2013 study, those who ruminate over negative thoughts and emotions are more at risk for depression and anxiety. The study also suggests that our psychological response to the negative occurrence seems to have more of an impact than the actual event itself. If you find yourself obsessing over every detail, try a few mindfulness meditation exercises to get you back to the present moment. Let those thoughts float away.
Stress can wreak havoc on your sleep routine, and the worst thing you can do is to just give into the stress. Binge-watching a TV show until the wee hours may seem like the only way to get your mind off of things, but research shows your glowing screen could be messing with your sleep even more. If you’re stressed and struggling to snooze, try smelling some lavender or even a warm bath. Sweet dreams.
Huffingtonpost.com 5 Mistakes We Make When We’re Stressed | By Lindsay Holmes
Thursday, October 30th
12:00 – 1:00 PM
The David Adamany Undergraduate Library, Bernath Auditorium
Did you know that men live, on average, five years less than women? That they have a higher chance than women of dying from all but one of the 15 leading causes of death? It is fair to say that men are not winning when it comes to their health.
At this session, Dr. Darren Jones will discuss the barriers that keep men engaged in their health and share steps that can be taken to overcome these statistics. This session is for men who want to take charge of their health and the women in their lives that want to encourage them to be healthier.
Register for this event on Training, Seminars, Workshops (TSW) through Pipeline/Academica. Scroll down to the subheading Wellness Warriors and click on the event titled Men: Take Charge of Your Health. Then click on the Sign Up box in order to register for the event.
Receive Wellness Bucks for attending the event by completing your October Wellness Bucks Tally Sheet on the 2014 Wellness Warriors Blackboard organization.
This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance
Whether you spent the summer scaling mountains or doing laps in your gym’s outdoor pool, exercising outside doesn’t have to end when the first leaf drops. In fact, fall is a great time to harvest a new routine to re-energize your workout. Consider the following tips and get motivated!
Enjoy the foliage.
Exercising outside feels like a lot less work, especially if you’re doing something you enjoy. Relish the cooler weather and take advantage of outdoor adventures before the winter rolls in. Research park trails nearby to enjoy a hike or bike ride amid fall’s colorful foliage. Even apple picking or pumpkin gathering with your kids is a fun activity that is sure to burn calories.
The change in season brings about a change in climate. Depending on where you live, temperatures could gradually decrease or drastically dip over the next month. Keep this in mind as you plan outdoor activities and invest in breathable, moisture-wicking clothing. Though you may feel chilly at first, your body will quickly warm up once your blood starts pumping so you don’t want to overdress either. For those cold morning runs, a hat will help insult your head where you lose the most heat.
Shorter days bring dark mornings and evenings, but this shouldn’t deter you from an outdoor exercise regime. Just be smart about it; wear reflective workout clothes and carry a flashlight to illuminate your path. Bike riders should invest in headlights and blinking tail lights and stay clear of heavy traffic roads. All early morning or evening exercisers should opt for designated paths or head to the local school track.
Take a cue from the kids.
As children head back to school this season, remember that you, too, should never stop learning. Are you interested in boxing, tap dancing or even fencing? Give it a try. Ask about deals on intro classes to find out if it’s right for you, or scour daily deal sites for introductory discounts.
Work out at home.
Now that the days feel shorter and the holiday season is looming, fitting fitness into your daily routine may feel impossible. But remember, even 15 or 20 minutes is enough time to get in a quick workout — think living room aerobics or a quick dash around the neighborhood. Be prepared for those fleeting moments of free time with fitness DVDs or better yet, hit up Hulu for free workout tutorials on Exercise TV.
Get the right gear.
For the most part, you can challenge your muscles with your own body weight and avoid all that specialty, super-expensive equipment advertised on TV. However, some items are helpful to your results, like hand weights or resistance bands.
Freeze that gym membership.
If you don’t have time to get to the gym or you simply rather spend more time outdoors, consider freezing your gym membership for a couple of months. Though you’ll be charged a small monthly fee to retain the membership, you could save up to 90 percent of the regular monthly charge. Though some people opt to cancel, you could wind up paying pesky initiation fees once you’re ready to sign up again.
Savor fall produce for less.
Grocery stores and farmers’ markets will be full of fall’s freshest produce including apples, figs, pears, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and winter squash. In-season produce is rich in flavor and cheap on your wallet.
Buy a bike.
According to The Best Time to Buy Guide, new bicycle models are released in September and dealers slash prices because they don’t want old models haunting their showrooms. Bike manufacturers make updates to new models, so educate yourself on those changes. Sometimes the updates are minimal or limited to design tweaks, making the older models a super smart buy.
Weigh yourself regularly.
With colder weather comes bulkier clothes, and I find it easy to overlook a few extra pounds through chunky sweaters. Combat this oversight by weighing yourself regularly, preferably at same time every day to get the most accurate reading. For help tracking your weight and exercise progress over time, try Fitbit’s Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale, which wirelessly syncs to a free and private online account each time you step on the scale. You’ll get stats with easy-to-read graphs of important body measurements including weight, BMI and body fat percentage over time. Huffingtonpost.com
Original Source: time.com
This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance
A new study that looked at more than 451,680 participants over seven years asked the group to report their fruit consumption, whether it be never, monthly, 1-3 days per week, 4-6 days per week, or daily. The researchers found that compared to people who never eat fruit, those who eat fruit every day cut their heart disease risk by 25% to 40%. Those who ate the most amount of fruit also had much lower blood pressure compared to the participants who never ate fruit.
The study is not the first to find a connection between eating fruit and having better heart health. One study of about 110,000 men and women over 14 years found that people who eat fruit and vegetables every day had a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and some studies have found that citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits have especially protective benefits.
Next time you’re in need of a snack, grab an apple over a bag of chips. It’s surely not the last time science will say it. time.com
Orginal Source: Hugffingtonpost.com
This article was featured in Wellness Wednesday from Ulliance
No one wants to be — or be around — a Negative Nancy. Positive people encourage others to be happier and more comfortable with themselves because their energy is contagious. And with all the adversity we face in our lives, it’s no wonder that kind of outlook is appealing. Studies show optimism certainly has its benefits. And even though it’s always possible to find the negatives in a situation, there are a few ways to cultivate the sort of mindset where you choose to see the positives. (After all, as Oscar Wilde once said, “We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”)
So how do we become a positive power wherever we go? Try these science-backed strategies:
Put kindness first.
We never forget the times people show compassion toward us, whether it’s a genuine smile from a stranger when we look down, or a friend who surprises us with ice cream and a movie after we’ve just been dumped. And turns out, it’s not just the recipient of kindness who experiences benefits — research shows those simple, empathetic behaviors make us happier, too.
Talk to someone you don’t know.
While we tend to ignore those we don’t know, a recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests we should be doing the opposite for the sake of our happiness. Researchers found that talking to strangers increases positive experiences through feelings of social connectedness. Step outside of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation with someone new in the room — you just might find yourself in a happier mood.
Go for a walk down memory lane.
Letting our minds wander back to our glory days has a way of making us feel warm and fuzzy inside — and there’s a reason for it. According to research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, feeling nostalgic about the past will increase optimistic feelings for the future (and as optimists well know, the best is yet to come).
Those with optimistic attitudes have an innate ability to bring out joy in others, and as a result, they’re incredibly effective leaders. People who look on the bright side tend to be more inspiring communicators and have a way of rallying others around them to see the positive, Forbes points out. These kinds of leaders don’t just know what it takes to get tasks done — they encourage others around them to optimistically do the same.
Be mindful of your body language.
The secret to a positive attitude may just start with positive posture. Research suggests that uncrossing your arms, standing tall and having a more approachable demeanor can all be positive marks of confidence. Studies also show that even just the simple act of smiling can make you seem more open (not to mention it can also boost your mood).
Listen more than you speak.
Good listening skills are a quiet, yet coveted power — and being a good listener also conveys positivity. When you listen, you open up your ability to take in more knowledge versus blocking the world with your words or your distracting thoughts. You are also demonstrating confidence and respect for others. Knowledge and confidence is proof that you are secure and positive with yourself, thus radiating positive energy.
Open yourself up to positive thoughts.
It’s natural for us to dwell on the negative, but the truth is, we all have the capacity to look at life through a glass half full. The key to being a positive force is to open yourself up to like-minded thoughts. One way to do that? Practice gratitude. Studies show reflecting on what you’re thankful for can make you a happier, more positive person. And when’s the last time anyone hated counting their blessings? Huffingtonpost.com
Hello Wellness Warriors!
I just signed up for a really important event, but it’s one I don’t want to do alone. I’d love it if you’d join me at the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. Making Strides events bring together millions of people in more than 300 communities nationwide to help finish the fight against breast cancer.
Why am I walking and why do I want you to join me? Thanks in part to the American Cancer Society, and people like you who signed up to fundraise and supported the cause, breast cancer death rates have dropped over the last 20 years. In fact, women are 34 percent less likely to die from breast cancer todaythan they were in 1989. But there’s still a lot of work to do. 1 in 8 women in the US will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
When you support me with a donation or join my team and raise funds, more people in our community will…
- Benefit from groundbreaking research and new discoveries to find, treat, and cure breast cancer
- Have a trained Cancer Information Specialist to talk with at any time of the day or night to ask questions and get answers
- Know the steps they should take to reduce their risk of breast cancer or find it early when it’s easiest to treat
- Get access to lifesaving mammograms and treatment
- Benefit from free information and services when and where they need it, like transportation to and from treatment, lodging when treatment is away from home, wigs, support programs, and much more
The first 50 Wellness Warriors that join and have a paid $30 donation online to our Wayne Cares – Wellness Warriors Team will receive a FREE office Making Strides Against Breast Cancer T-shirt!T-shirts will be available for pick-up at WSU the week of the walk. Please feel free to invite your family, friends, and supporters to our team. All are welcomed to join us on October 11th at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
Can not make the walk on October 11th but still would like to make a difference? By choosing the donation option while under our Wayne Cares – Wellness Warriors Team page you can still contribute to the cause without participating at the walk.
This progress is only possible one walker and one donation at a time, so please consider joining me or supporting our Wayne Cares Wellness Warrior Team with a donation. Together, we can finish the fight against breast cancer!
Thanks so much!
Wayne State University
Total Compensation and Wellness
Wellness Coordinator and Team Leader
Click here to visit our TEAM’s page
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The Five Vows for Making Promises
Every day we make handfuls of commitments. We say we’ll meet friends for drinks or pick up the dry cleaning. We swear we’ll make it to the gym or call our grandmothers. And while these are all great promises, they all have one slightly negative commonality: They sound more like items on a to-do list than actual vows. If you’re wanting to make promises that are really worth crossing your heart for, try making the five vows below. Then swear not to break them.
I will make a point to notice when life is good. It’s easy to dwell on the dreary days, the bad workouts, the broken coffee machine and the horrible fights, but the antidote isn’t incessant rumination. Practicing gratitude in spite of the negative is the best way out. Expressing thanks — whether it’s just calling the good to mind or writing it down — can help you deflect bad experiences and cultivate a happier attitude. By promising yourself you’ll look at the good side and being thankful for it, you’re automatically setting yourself up for joy.
I will listen to my body and my mind when I’m stressed out. Burnout is the disease of our civilization — so how can we prevent ourselves from catching it? When something’s wrong, our bodies tend to scream louder than our minds. It’s important to tune into the warning signs of stress — physical and mental. That includes paying attention to out-of-the-ordinary symptoms like upset stomachs, tight muscles and recurring dreams, and making a promise to tap into those red flags. You may be able to stop (and ultimately avoid) burnout.
I will smile at one stranger today.
Giving a friendly grin isn’t just a simple gesture — it’s an instant wellness booster. Studies have shown that the simple act of smiling can increase your mood, and flashing those pearly whites to a stranger can help you feel more connected. By promising to smile at someone once a day, you’re not only helping yourself, you’re boosting the morale of others. And doesn’t that feel good?
I will be kind to myself.
Whether it’s your appearance or your abilities, you deserve to be treated respectfully –and that includes the thoughts you have about yourself. Research shows that self-acceptance is paramount to a happier life, but it’s the habit we tend to practice the least. Make a vow to be kinder to the person staring back at you in the mirror.
I will try my best. We’re often our own worst critics when it comes to estimating our abilities, so make a promise to yourself today that you’re going to take control of that criticism. Shame-based thoughts get us nowhere, and soon they affect more than our capabilities at work.
The labels we give ourselves are the ones that stick — and it’s better to accept what your best is than put down what you’re not. Observing without judgment can move you to see yourself in new, objective terms and can lead to greater understanding and acceptance of yourself without the negative labels. A consequence will be greater compassion toward others and more positive relationships. Huffingtonpost.com
Strategies in Preventing the Common Cycle of Yearly Weight Loss-Weight Gain
This article was provided by Ulliance.
There is a common yearly weight-loss, weight-gain cycle: August is second to December in the rate of weight-gain, with September being second to January in weight loss. Why is this, and how can you change and benefit by recognizing this cycle?
December is the month that people gain the most weight: for four weeks, you are faced with holidays, gatherings, office parties, excess food, drink, and too many sugary items. Meanwhile, you’re thinking, “I’ll wait until January.” In August the summer eating challenges have taken control, resolves are weakened, and many people overindulge in barbecues, vacations and picnics thinking “I’ll just wait until September.”
Let’s take a look at what some have found to be the common cycle of yearly weight loss-weight gain:
January: You make a resolution, and a promise to yourself or to others, to eat better, exercise, lose weight, drink water, eat vegetables, stop drinking… etc., etc. February: You realize you have not kept your promises, or that you have made too many promises and it is unrealistic, and you fall back into old habits. March: You have the winter doldrums and you eat too many calorie-laden items waiting for the spring season to feel renewed again.
April: Changes in weather begin to happen, days are longer and more daylight is welcomed. Once again you make a promise to think about losing weight. May: Spring is here bringing lighter clothing, and more outside activities. You want to lose weight, eat better, and exercise because you will be wearing less clothing in warmer weather. Your weight-loss resolve is back. June: BBQ and picnic season are here, and although grilling meat is a healthier way to eat, BBQ’s and picnics tend to offer salads loaded with mayo, chips and dips, carbohydrates, and fancy alcoholic drinks.
July: BBQ, beach, vacation and pool-side season is in full swing. Each offers an abundance of food, drink, and merriment. Your schedule is more relaxed, and your eating is more relaxed, too, leading to some overeating and drinking. August: BBQ, beach, pool, and vacation season is still in full swing but as August days pass you think, “I’ll wait until September to pay attention to my eating again. It’s only a few more weeks.” In those weeks, with a give-up attitude, you once again begin to gain weight. September: Children and teachers are back in school, and you’re into a routine. You begin to care about your eating and exercise level again, and are recommitted to your health and weight loss. September is a month of renewal.
October: Weather changes, there is less daylight, and the days get shorter. Every store you walk into has Halloween candy ready for impulse buying. The candy is eaten the entire month of October and this begins to weaken your resolve again. November: You enter November having eaten too many sweets the weeks before. You start to plan for Thanksgiving, and by the time the holiday arrives you are busy with visiting family or family visiting, and Thanksgiving becomes an eating adventure. December: By now you have been overeating for a several weeks and it continues throughout the month with the holidays, gatherings, shopping, visiting, and everything else that takes place in December, and you say, “I’ll wait for January to care for my eating.”
January: It begins again…
This is not everyone, but is it you? If you answer yes, no wonder you are not losing the weight. Let’s change the cycle and start with the January resolution, today.
Making a resolution is a promise to yourself or others. Behind every resolution is a desire to achieve a goal. Address the desire! If your resolution is to eat better, exercise, or lose weight, ask yourself: What is my real desire? Your desire may be to become healthier, decrease medication, improve relationships, be happier, become more active and be more successful. Whatever it is, work on satisfying your desire, regardless of the time of year. When you can acknowledge your desire it will take you throughout the year regardless of the month or events and holidays. Where you are and who you’re with will become irrelevant, and your desire will stay strong.
Eating smart and exercising is the pathway to achieving your desire. Being a healthier, happier, more active or successful person is not what you do. It’s who you are, every month and every meal, starting now.